For the past ten plus years, messages have been arriving that the existing healthcare system is seriously broken and there is a scientifically and medically proven way to fix it. Consider the following series of events.
May 29, 2006 -
The cover story in Business Week Magazine featured this headline; "Medical Guesswork: From heart surgery to prostate care the health industry knows little about which common treatments work". Dr. David Eddy looked at every treatment used by conventional medicine and could only find good scientific evidence for 20 - 25 percent of what they do.
February 26, 2009 -
Dr. Mark Hyman was giving testimony to a U.S. Senate hearing with the title, Integrative Care: A Pathway to a Healthier Nutrition. Dr. Hyman summarized the four hours of testimony with this one line summary; "You will not solve the current healthcare crisis if you simply continue to do the wrong things better."
August 30, 2014-
This headline appears in a small, well-respected medical journal Holistic Primary Care: "Cleveland Clinic Gets "Functional." The article announced a decision by the prestigious Cleveland Clinic to begin focusing on functional medicine because it is safer, more effective and less costly. The clinic's CEO, Delos Cosgrove, stated: "Functional Medicine is the medicine of the future."
June 2, 2017 -
The headline in Newsweek Magazine "The Doctor Will See You Now: How AI is going to cure our sick health care system." The problem with the headline is that it completely ignored the previous three headlines. It harkens back to the Dr. Hyman quote about "doing the wrong things better." Watson, the now famous IBM computer may indeed be the fastest and most comprehensive Artificial Intelligence system available, but what if it's loaded with the wrong information?
Functional Medicine - The Missing Link
For the past seventy plus years', medicine has been following two very separate paths, one based on allopathic, or conventional, medicine and the other based on natural, or functional medicine. Some of the pioneers of this natural movement have been Linus Pauling, Andrew Weil, Bernie Siegel, Joseph Pizzorno, Michael Murray, Mark Hyman, Dean Ornish, Jeffrey Bland, David Jones and Julian Whitaker.
The National Institutes of Health even funded studies that clearly showed the superior ability of natural medicine to both prevent and reverse chronic disease. A good summary of these findings in available in the April 2015 issue of Life Extension Magazine entitled; The Beginning of the End of the War on Medicine. Consider some of the amazing outcomes from the application of natural or functional medicine.
Clinical Trial Example -
In a small clinical trial with kidney disease patients, 50 percent of people already on dialysis were able to be removed from their blood cleansing equipment by taking 180 mg of Coenzyme Q10 for three months. For more details on how this was possible go to Green Med Info and search Preventing Disease Before it Starts, April 11, 2017.
Medical Office Example -
Dr. Julian Whitaker has been treating thousands of patients with Type 2 diabetes for over twenty years with a 90 percent success rate. His book, Reversing Diabetes, has a proven protocol based on nutrition and exercise which has allowed a vast majority of patients to get off of their medications.
A similar experience has been documented in books on diabetes by Neal Barnard and Mark Hyman. A National Institute of Health study also validated the natural approach when diet and exercise outperformed the leading diabetes drug by nearly 100 percent. (Diabetes Prevention Program Feb 7, 2002).
In spite of this experience, most conventional doctors still don't get it.Dean Ornish has had the same experience reversing heart disease with diet, exercise and stress reduction, but it took the insurance industry over 25 years to realize that Dr. Ornish was getting better results than anything being done by conventional medical doctors. Why did it take so long?
Workplace Experience -
Employers represent the most logical place to take advantage of the safer, more effective and less expensive healthcare available from natural medicine. Consider the case of Allina Health in Minneapolis whose 10,000 employees were all provided supplemental vitamin D3 capsules for a year and realized a 24 to 1 return on investment in terms of reduced healthcare costs.
And, in the most comprehensive experience of the use of functional medicine in the workplace, Dr. Joseph Pizzorno has used his Artificial Intelligence platform, based on functional medicine, to achieve an 18 percent reduction in healthcare costs for 20,000 employees over a five-year period.
Back to the Future and Back to the Senate -
Practically every media outlet is now covering the current debate in the Senate about proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act. The senators are struggling with a financially bloated and unsustainable healthcare system and all they can think about is how to reduce costs.
Not one word has been written about the flawed medical system and how functional medicine could save the country from the political nightmare we are experiencing. The Republicans will try to slash spending to save the system, regardless of the consequences, and Democrats will try to save expensive and often unscientific services.
The public and voters are upset and confused by this inability to get this argument focused on the right topic, the improvement of health through the use of safer, more effective and less costly health care. The case has been made, but big pharma and big medicine are blocking this obvious solution with their political clout.
Over 80 percent of chronic disease is preventable and yet we only spend 5 percent of all healthcare dollars on prevention. It's time to change this debate and use the evidence available to correct this problem. Employers are the most logical place to make this change and they do not need the Senate, the drug companies or the AMA to help them.
All they need is good leadership, a commitment to employee health and the assistance of a progressive broker, insurance company or wellness provider to start them on the path to wellness based on Functional Medicine.
About the Author
Charles Bens has a Ph.D. in nutrition and uses Functional Medicine as the foundation for his wellness consulting company Healthy at Work in Sarasota, Florida. He uses nutritional education, along with other natural wellness tools, to help employees make difficult lifestyle changes such as losing weight, smoking cessation or the prevention and reversal of chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.
In this article Dr. Bens presents the compelling science behind Functional Medicine, which clearly illustrates that this natural approach is safer, more effective and much less costly then the conventional approaches used by most employers and their healthcare providers.